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One question that often gets asked before starting a renovation project is: Who should supply the materials? The client or the contractor? Now, this usually doesn’t come up when we’re talking about plywood or drywall. This situation surfaces when we’re looking at finished products, such as bathroom or light fixtures. Sometimes, a client would rather go out to a big box retailer to pick up product instead of leaving the purchasing up to the contractor. Allow me to say that it might be in your best interests to let the contractor do the purchases for you. Here are a few reasons why.

It might work out to be less money for us to pick it up for you

You might have had your eye on that hardwood flooring or that bathtub from the big box retailer for quite some time, and look, it’s on sale. Or maybe you have a friend who works at a retail store that can get you an employee discount on product. Before you dive in with both feet, consider that you are still paying retail price and your contractor might be able to get it for less from a wholesale store. A contractor will often have charge accounts with various wholesalers that allows them to buy products for much less that what retail stores have to offer. The discount varies from place to place, but some wholesalers offer up to 30% off the exact same product you’d see in a big box retailer. Yes, contractors do mark up the product that they purchase for their client, but that markup tends to be less than or equal to retail price anyways. Long and short of it is, why wouldn’t you have your contractor supply everything if the cost is the same? So why can’t you get wholesale price from a wholesaler? Simple. We buy a steady stream of products from them and it’s our repeat business that keeps them in business, whereas they might see you once every decade or so.

You might not know what you’re supplying

Not all building materials and finished building goods are made the same. Although everything is made to meet certain quality standards, there can be a big difference in levels of quality. You might be purchasing a product that isn’t very good quality, or perhaps you do choose a good quality product but you select a product that isn’t appropriate for the situation. Some products are also more difficult to work with and tradesmen may take longer to install them, adding cost. Or, my personal favourite, opening a box containing a bathroom fixture to discover that pieces are missing. If I’m supplying a product that turns out to have pieces missing or is damaged, I’ll be the one driving to the store to exchange it not you. If you’re supplying the product, you should be the one taking care of those issues, but in reality your at work and won’t be able to exchange that item till the next day or maybe the weekend.

I guarantee it

If you decide to supply your own materials, what happens when it breaks? If it’s an installation issue, of course, it’s the contractor’s responsibility, but if it’s a product defect, no contractor is going to want to pay to replace it. It’s no problem if you have to take back a light fixture to a big box retailer for an exchange, but what happens if you have to return a bathtub after it has been tiled in? You won’t be able to take it out without damaging the tile. And who is going to have to contact the manufacturer for warranty service? I mean, after all, you bought it.

Remember that having your contractor supply everything doesn’t mean that you don’t get to choose what you want. Sometimes, on the contrary, your contractor might be able to provide you with more options that can only be found with wholesalers and speciality stores. If you still have you heart set on that bathroom vanity set only available at select retailers, don’t worry. You can still have that. Just let us pick it up for you. That way, if there are any headaches, they’ll be our headaches, not yours. After all, at the end of the day, we want you to be happy with your project.

If you want to view other blog posts from Robert & Michael at Nord Alta Construction, visit our blog on our site by clicking here.

If you’re in Edmonton, St. Albert, Sherwood Park, or the surrounding area and are looking for a contractor for you renovation project, visit our website at to find information on how to contact us. We’d be happy to speak to you about what we can do to get the ball rolling on your next home or office project. You can also leave comments with us at

Michael Breault is a project coordinator for Nord Alta Construction. You can find the company website at You can also find Michael and Nord Atla Construction on facebook at, on twitter at, and on LinkedIn.

Robert Breault is the president and owner of Nord Alta Construction. You can find the company website at You can also find Robert and Nord Alta Construction on facebook at and on LinkedIn.